At 53, Austin alt-country garage rocker Jesse Dayton has acquired hard-won wisdom he’s happy to impart to younger generations. Having launched his career backing elder outlaw statesmen like Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, then moonlighting in the movie industry scoring soundtracks for his friend Rob Zombie’s gorefests “Halloween II” and “The Devil’s Rejects” (which led him to write and direct his own 2013 splatterfest “Zombex”) he’d like to clarify one thing: “No matter what anyone tells you, actors want to be musicians way more than musicians ever want to be actors, and in the music business, they’ll stab you in the back, but in the film world, they’ll stab you right in the chest.”
Dayton doesn’t chuckle in making the statement: “I got so burned out from being around movie people, I just had to get back to music again,” he says of his new recording, a bare-knuckled manifesto called “Mixtape Volume 1,” which he’s backing in town this weekend, opening for his old chums The Blasters.
It’s a covers album but also a restatement of artistic purpose that includes his takes on diverse influences such as Jackson Browne (“Redneck Friend”), The Cars (“Just What I Needed”), Neil Young (“Harvest”), Gordon Lightfoot (“If You Could Read My Mind”), and AC/DC’s definitive “Whole Lotta Rosie.”
“I had done two all-original records, back to back [2016’s “The Revealer” and “The Outsider” in 2018] so it was time for this,” he says.
Dayton grew up in tiny Beaumont, Texas, hungry for any music that caught his ear, regardless of genre. “Punk rock never even hit there,” he says. “Me and my buddy John Cook were the only two guys who owned a punk rock record, and the only two that drove to San Antonio to see The Clash, and as soon as I graduated from high school, I packed my s—- and split.”
In Austin, he found backing from impresario Clifford Antone, and issued his debut disc, “Raisin’ Cain,” in 1995. Then X’s John Doe invited him into his solo backing group and actor Lew Temple played his gravelly music for Rob Zombie, who taught him tricks of the directing trade. “I paid close attention,” he says.
“Zombex,” targeted at Big Pharma, imagines a post-Katrina New Orleans where a PTSD drug turns survivors into the walking dead.
“It was a horrible experience, in terms of the producers,” says Dayton, who has four more scripts, ready to go. “But then I went back for some final shots with just a skeleton crew, and none of these professsional coffee-drinker production people around, and it was just glorious. So that’s how I’ll make my next movie.”
IF YOU GO
The Blasters, Jesse Dayton
Where: Slim’s, 333 11th St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Contact: (415) 255-0333, www.eventbrite.com